Apeirophobia (Fear of Infinity)
Apeirophobia is the irrational fear of infinity. Someone suffering from this disorder may find themselves experiencing great amounts of anxiety at the mere thought of infinity. In some extreme cases, their fear may be so intrusive and detrimental that it may even cause them to endure full blown panic attacks that may require them to be hospitalized.
The concept of infinity or eternity is very difficult to grasp. For instance, the number π (Pi) is an infinite number: 3.14159… Such an infinite number is very difficult to conceive, yet it still exists. There are many objective things, such as numbers, which can actually be eternal. However, the real debate begins with the material world.
Many religions, such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, among many others, believe in an eternal life after death. Though some people may find this to be the greatest thing ever, there are others who may find that living for an eternity to be a monotonously repetitive form of torture. Regardless of your own religious convictions or what you believe will happen to you once you die, one thing is clear, the mystifying concept of eternity is a mind-boggling idea to wrap our minds around.
People suffering from apeirophobia may find day to day life to be so anxiety provoking that they may experience issues with coping, as well as experiencing problems occurring with their relationships with others. Such occurrences may only exacerbate their apeirophobia symptoms of anxiety, thus intensifying their disorder as a whole.
Symptoms of Apeirophobia
Someone suffering from apeirophobia can expect to experience a significant amount of anxiety when faced with the concept of infinity or when dwelling on that which is eternal. Such a grandiose idea will give them an influx of fear and terror as they may not be able to come to grips with the idea that some things may truly be infinite. The person with apeirophobia may find themselves questioning many things, such as reality, religion, and absolute truths, among several other things.
It may not be uncommon for someone with apeirophobia to also develop additional mental disorders. For example, someone who is irrationally fearful of infinity may eventually develop other related phobias or anxiety disorders insofar as they have the genetic makeup to do so. For instance, they may begin to obsess about their fear of eternity to the point to where it consumes their thoughts throughout the day. This may open the door for them to develop obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
As with virtually all other phobias, anxiety will be the most common symptom of apeirophobia experienced. As stated previously before, their anxiety may be so extreme that they may actually endure full blown panic attacks. Though this may not be the norm, it is still very plausible for it to occur depending on the individual’s genetic makeup.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of apeirophobia:
Anxiety when looking at something that is infinite
Anxiety when thinking of the concept of eternity
Unable to cope with very strong emotions
Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
May experience panic attacks
Causes of Apeirophobia
There is no known cause of apeirophobia. However, there is a consensus among most mental health professionals that both genetics and one’s environment play very significant roles in the development of any given mental disorder. With that being said, taking a close look at these two different parameters may give you more insight as to why you do or do not suffer from apeirophobia.
If someone has a family history of mental illness, then they may have a higher chance of developing apeirophobia as opposed to someone who does not have such a history. This most likely has to do with the individual being or not being genetically predisposed to developing mental illness. However, merely having a family history of mental illness does not therefore mean that you have a genetic predisposition to develop apeirophobia.
Someone with the proper genetics may then require to experience some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown apeirophobia. Such a traumatic experience may be that they have suffered from scrupulosity OCD for many years and the thought of eternity has been a plaguing concern for them. Such religious concerns may be more than enough for someone to develop an irrational fear of eternity.
Though we can most certainly look at different possible causes of someone developing mental disorders, it appears that the best indicators of someone developing such illnesses are genetics and environment. Unfortunately there is not a lot of information out there on apeirophobia. In fact, this is the case with most phobias in general.
Apeirophobia Treatments (abridged)
There are no known treatment methods available that are specifically designed to treat apeirophobia. Be that as it may, exposure therapy may be a very advantageous form of treatment for this condition. Exposure therapy is one of the most common forms of therapy for those suffering from virtually any given phobia. Exposure therapy works by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to their fear over time.
Having the patient become exposed to their fear will inevitably give them a great amount of anxiety. Nevertheless, by doing so they will also be working toward desensitizing themselves from their fear also. In context to apeirophobia, the therapist may expose the patient to infinity by discussing things such as infinite mathematical numbers, infinity as a concept, as well as what eternity means to them.
Anti-anxiety medication may also be very helpful for someone suffering from this disorder. However, even though it can help to minimize one’s symptoms of anxiety, it may not be very effective to merely take medication alone without any form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or exposure therapy.
If you think you have apeirophobia or if you are suffering from some of the symptoms described in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly diagnosed. Upon seeing your doctor, she may refer you to see a specialist such as a therapist or a psychiatrist. Here, you may receive exposure therapy treatment and/or medication, among other forms of treatment.
Psychiatric Medications for Apeirophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe apeirophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.
These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their apeirophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.
These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as apeirophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of apeirophobia.
These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of apeirophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Apeirophobia
MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from apeirophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with apeirophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of apeirophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Apeirophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from apeirophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimeous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from apeirophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
For someone with apeirophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of apeirophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.
Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with apeirophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Apeirophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as apeirophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with apeirophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.
The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with apeirophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their apeirophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with apeirophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.
Yoga for Apeirophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from apeirophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with apeirophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.
There are many different types of yoga that someone with apeirophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with apeirophobia.
If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of apeirophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Exercise for Apeirophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including apeirophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.
According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of apeirophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.
There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of apeirophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with apeirophobia over time.
Caffeine Reduction for Apeirophobia
It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with apeirophobia to experience panic attacks.
So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.
Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with apeirophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Apeirophobia
DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like apeirophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with apeirophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.
Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with apeirophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.
Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with apeirophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your apeirophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Apeirophobia
CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with apeirophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.
CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with apeirophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with apeirophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.
Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with apeirophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.